Sean Spicer Briefs Reporters at the White House CSPAN February 21, 2017 7:07pm-8:00pm EST
"washington journal." watch president trump. this congressp: is going to be the busiest congress we have had in decades. on c-span and c-span.org, and listen free on the c-span radio app. announcer: now, today's briefing with secretary sean spicer, discussing the immigration policy, the relation with the press, and border security. this is almost one hour. >> all rise. hey, good afternoon,
everyone. it has been a while. you have missed me. absolutely. we have got a lot to talk about today, so let's get right to it. first off, i want to technology the tragic thing crash that occurred in australia that took the lives of australians and americans. the president's thoughts and prayers are with the families, and the conflict is ready to provide necessary assistance. moving on, the president was proud to announce that willenant general mcmaster be serving. he was in the united states army for over three decades, including during operation iraqi freedom, operation injuring freedom, and operation desert storm. enduring gfreedom, and operation desert storm.
states outlines several practices and policies in order to strengthen the efficient and faithful execution of this country a posthumous immigration laws, and that includes hiring as well as staff necessary to support their activities. directs theso establishment of the victims of immigration crime within ice, for filling another major campaign promise. the office will facilitate engagement with victims and their families to ensure that their questions and concerns regarding immigration enforcement efforts are addressed. the memo with border security theimprovements outlines steps that dhs will take to secure the southern border, prevent further illegal immigration, and to repatriate immigrants quickly and humanely. ofs identifies all sources available funding for the planning, design, construction,
and maintenance of the wall along our southern border, and hiring additional personnel, including 5000 border agents. again, i will refer you to dhs for comments on these specific memos. there are fact sheets and q&a's for areas inside the executive orders that you may have questions on. also, the president had calls from the president of panama and of trinidad and to bago. memos have been released. there has also been an update on the plan to repeal and replace obamacare, to make sure it is good for all americans. in honor of black history month, the president started the day i visiting the museum of african american history and culture last september and has quickly become one of washington's most-visited
attractions. he was with his. or dr. ben carson, and his wife, senator tim scott, the niece of dr. martin luther king, junior, the , asetary of the smithsonian well as others. the president commented several times during his tour about how impressed he was with the museum. some of the exhibits he was drawn to included the section on harriet tubman, which included a shawl that was given to her by queen victoria. and then the contributions that the african-americans have made to the united states military, and the president was particularly pleased with the exhibit on muhammad ali, with the quote "i shook up the world are pro- -- the world." king, the president was on a that he could share the experience with the two w of
them, specifically. his desire is to on of the immense contribution of the courageous african-american leaders by building a more unified country. this afternoon, the president will have a routine briefing in the situation room, in addition to his briefing which he received this morning. then, he will have dinner with the vice president. discuss theey will vice presidents recent trip to europe. the vice president was an incredible representative, and he reiterated our support for allies in pursuit of freedom, democracy, and justice and the rule of law and discussing how to do more to encourage all nato allies to meet their financial obligations and commitments. munich, thepeech in vice president conveyed the administration's unwavering commitment to peace and prosperity in europe, especially
remembering the tens of thousands who gave their lives to defend those ideals in world war i and world war ii. a mission of security and strength. during his time in munich, the vice president also met with nine world leaders. the vice president and the leaders discussed the issues most important to them, including the escalation of violence in eastern ukraine and the role of nato in the fight against isis. the vice president also met in brussels, with the vice president of the council of the and the naton secretary-general. as a candidate for office, president trump called attention repeatedly to the fact that for t.l.o. long, many of our nato allies have not been sharing g, many- that for too lon of our nato allies have not been sharing the cost. forwarded states look to working with our partners in nato to achieve just that. looking for the upcoming presidential schedule, he will
be meeting with someone fresh off of a trip to the g 20, and they will discuss the foreign-policy agenda and the secretary of austria's upcoming trip to mexico. they will talk about job creation in the manufacturing sector with ceo's and business leaders from different industries. i've friday, he will deliver remarks for the political action conference, and we are just one week away from the presidential address to congress. the president will work with his team to craft an ambitious policy agenda that will benefit all americans. worksare currently in the for activities for the president and his staff, and we will have more updates -- plans are currently in the works for activities. to address the jewish committee centers throughout the country. the president reiterated this theing that the attacks on jewish committee centers are horrible and painful and a sad
reminder of the work that must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil. with that, i will take some of your questions. jim? curious with the president's characterization of the media as an enemy of the american people. mr. spicer: i think the president has been very clear that some outlets have gone out of their way to not represent his record accurately, and it is a concern to him, and i think has deeprters, he respect for the first amendment, for the role of the press -- i have addressed this multiple times in the past. he has a healthy respect for the press, has deep respect but the president understands that certain outlets have gone out of their way to not be completely accurate and fair in their coverage of what is going on. >> i have noticed to w times in the last week that you have been
--two times in the last week, contradicted, and that among guests at mar-a-lago, the president was talking about confidential information. the president and the prime minister of japan were briefed in front of guests. mr. spicer: i cannot say that. no, this is what was said. that the president and prime minister were briefed in front of guests at mar-a-lago. i just want to clarify. did that happen? mr. spicer: no. i think i walked through this timeline before, jim. a photo is put out with the president with a piece of paper, and it is that he is talking about classified information. the president was briefed on the situation in north korea prior to the dinner. this was at mar-a-lago. he went and had dinner. he discussed the logistics of the press conference, which i
have talked to you about before. there was a discussion about the press conference and the logistics of it, and then he was updated again on north korea. that is it, plain and simple, but to your first question, it is amazing that the immediate jump to conclusions of several outlets is that there was a piece of paper, it must be classified. is amazing to see that, and to see people jump to that conclusion, he is surrounded by his staff, members of the japanese delegation, and the result is that he must be doing something if areas or wrong. he followed every procedure. i think in some cases, it is disheartening to see that those are the kinds of media conclusions that somebody jumps to. so when you talk about coverage, we have a free press. we have a right for people to say and do what they believe, but at some point, it is incumbent on people to try to get it right, and in that case,
it was not even attempted. it was a jump to a conclusion by many to say that there was something else going on, when we were able to provide clarity on what happened. reporter: that happened last week, and in the letter, they said, we can no longer serve the president. first of all, what is the white house reaction, and do you plan to appoint your own members to this counsel? mr. spicer: those members of the council were appointed by the obama administration. they were set to expire this year. it is not surprising that they were appointed by barack obama. they were going to have their terms expire, but, again, i get it. wouldolitical appointees automatically resigned because of the term of these individuals. they would carry through to the end of the year, that i do not think it is surprising that
people who were appointed by barack obama to fill his agenda certainly -- suddenly know there is a new agenda in town and didn't want to stay on board. we will make sure we appoint people to this task force. it is something that has provided governance to multiple presidents in the past, and we will continue to do that. reporter: on the statement of the anti-semitic comments, what is the president going to do to address that issue? and along those lines, there were reports earlier on that he was considering changing the mandate of this countering violent extremism program, addressing islamic extremist groups. is he still considering that? the scope of the program -- mr. spicer: are you talking about the executive order? : no, this is the countering violent extremism program. mr. spicer: i think we're getting ahead of it.
i think he will do what he has talked about since election night. it is through deed and action, talk about how we can unify the country, speak out against hate, anti-semitism, racism, and he is going to continue to do that, and i think he will show you over the course of months and years, or what he does in terms of his policies and in his speech, that he is going to be a president that brings people together, that unites them, and who speaks very, very forcibly against those who are seeking to do hate or to tear people down because of their religion or agenda or the color of their skin. those are all things. john? -- two questions. the new executive order. present confident that this will pass legal muster, and if he is, what gives him confidence?
he is, and i think we're still going to prevail on the merits of the case, and i think what we saw in massachusetts, once it is fully adjudicated, we will prevail, because the authority is granted to the president to do what he needs to do to protect the country, so i feel very, very confident. the second track, as he has made clear, until it happens, we will thata system, and in order is tailored to achieve the same goals in accordance with what the court said, so we have been working very closely with the department's state, the department of homeland security, the department of justice, and the team at the white house to make sure the next step achieves the goal of protecting the american society and that recognizes the concerns the court had until we prevail at a later time, so it is a dual that time. reporter: will they send a
terror suspect to guantanamo bay mr. spicer:? -- to guantanamo bay? mr. spicer: i will not answer that. as i have said before, we will not telegraph what we are going to do. they did a survey for a national security and making sure we do not bring terrorists, but i will not get into what we will or will not do in the future. again, i will not comment. reporter: your clarification about where he stands on anti-semitism, but after that statement by the president, there was a statement released, pretty strongly worded, that calls it a band-aid on the cancer within the current saying thaton, whether it is less or otherwise, xenophobia within this administration. mr. spicer: look. the president has made clear since the day he was elected, and, frankly, going back through
the campaign, that he is going to unite the country. he has brought diverse folks into his administration, in terms of visions and people whom he sought the advice of, and i think he has been very forceful with his denunciation of people who seek to attack people because of their hate, because of their religion, because of their gender, because of the color of their skin, and that will be something that he will continue to fight and make very, very clear that has no place within this administration, but it is ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, it is never good enough. think was an unbelievably forceful comment by the president as far as his denunciation of the actions that are currently targeted towards jewish community centers, but i think he has been very clear previous to this that he wants to be someone who brings this
country together and not divide people, especially in those areas, so i saw that statement. i wish that they had praised the president for his leadership in this area, and i think that hopefully as time continues to go by, they recognize his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all americans. and we are starting early with the two questions. reporter: the southern poverty law center says the number of these groups has gone up. is the message within the administration that xenophobia is not allowed, -- as the president been forceful about that? mr. spicer: i think that the president, in his desire to fight radical islam and terrorism, we understand people who want to express a peaceful position have every right in our
constitution, but if you were to come here and express views that seek to do our country or our people harm, he will fight it aggressively, acts that are going on here or attempts of people abroad to come into the a country, that there is a big difference between preventing attacks and making sure we keep this country safe so that there is no loss of life and allowing people to express themselves in accordance with our first amendment. those are two very, very different things. abouter: sean, manufacturing, i did not know where you were going. manufacturing on thursday. let me ask you something that is important to that, which is the border adjustment tax from this year, which was called "too com plicated." way, and if that this is complicated or not, is there something in the
administration one way or not that the president wants to see something in or out of the tax package? there are several parts to that. that counts like eight questions. so, first of all, there is a meeting on thursday. this will be a really historic opportunity for ceo's to come in and talk to members of the white house staff and others, through various agencies, about how we can create jobs, how regulations are stifling economic growth, and i think we will have further details on that, but this will be a really interesting opportunity to really create a dialogue. i think in a manner that has not been done before, but i am not going to get ahead of myself on this, where we can't really discuss some of the inhibitors to job -- where we can really discuss some of the inhibitors
to job creation. i think the president has been very clear. within the next couple of weeks, we expect to have a tax plan out there that is being worked on continuously, so i am not going to get in front of that. that the ceo's are here, is an opportunity for them to express what some of his policies are that are helping them to create jobs and also inhibiting them, so let's let the conversation play out. yes? reporter: my name is -- and i have a question. the relationship between the two w countries. administration, in regards to immigration, does president trump also plan to review policies am a bilateral policies, with brazil and trade deals, and my second question, the current turmoil. and one more question. spoke with some leaders from latin america, like argentina.
and not with brazil. why is that? obviously, we cherish our relationship with brazil. there is a timing factor here. we will speak with brazil soon. it is a timing factor in a matter of getting things on the schedule. we will review all of the trade deals. the president has been very clear. some of them were from decades ago. we are looking at all of the trade deals we have throughout the globe to make sure they continue to benefit america and american workers, and in many cases, we can update these deals. it is not one particular country. we will look at a host of trade agreements and other trade-related agreements that we have with countries to make sure that they are the most up-to-date and address the cap logical advances that have therred and looked at various services, you know, whether it is financial services
or manufacturing and whether they reflect the current state of play. this is not any one country. i think the president made so this isn't any one country. i think the president made clear throughout the campaign and subsequent that he wants to review every trade deal to make sure that america and american workers are maintaining the best deal possible. reporter: on the turmoil, how does the administration see the turmoil in brazil now? mr. spicer: i think that's a question for the department of state right now. reporter: thanks, sean. two questions for you. one on the nsc meeting later this afternoon. is that the first meeting of the national security council of the president with all the principals there? mr. spicer: that is just a routine briefing. but because of the nature of it, it's happening in the situation room. reporter: but is that with staff, or is that with -- mr. spicer: staff. reporter: okay, so it's not with, like, the principals committee. reporter: when do you anticipate the first formal meeting of the national security council? mr. spicer: well, i think
general mcmaster got here at noon today. we move fast, but i think that we need to give him a few days probably to get his team together. so the president was obviously very pleased with the selection. i think when you saw the bipartisan support that general mcmaster received from the variety of the political spectrum -- people who have served republicans and democrats, academics, pundits, columnists -- you know that he made an outstanding choice. we want to get him in, show him around the office a little bit, and then get him going. but when we have a date to announce, we will let you know. reporter: the joint address for next week, what's the president's goal for that address? mr. spicer: i'll have a further update as the week goes on, and we'll have briefings. the president is going to lay out two main things -- where we've come and where we're going. i think that he is very pleased with the progress that he has made so far in the first month in office, and i think it's an opportunity to remind members of congress and the american people what he promised them on the campaign trail, what he's done already in a very significant way to achieve and fulfill those promises that he made, but also talk about the challenges that we have as a nation and where we're going.
and that's everything from our relationship with other countries in this world to some of the various domestic problems that we face, the challenges that we face in cities, health care, education. but the president wants to make sure that the american people have a very clear indication as to where he's taking this country and why he's going to enact the policies he's going to enact. john. george, i'm sorry. reporter: thanks a lot, sean. let me ask you a question about the vice president's european trip. i'm curious whether he received any commitments from our european allies to commit more in terms of their financial contribution to nato. mr. spicer: i think several of them -- i saw chancellor merkel's comments previous to that, noting that they understand that the u.s. is asking for that commitment. look, we're one of the only countries -- there's a handful -- that are doing what nato requires, which is 2% of gdp.
1.3%,f them are at 1.2%, 1.5%, and some of them are below that. but we've got to ask them to do what they agreed to do. and i think we've had a very positive reaction from most of these nato countries that understand that the financial agreement that they agreed to is something that they need to live up to. and i think the vice president continued to receive assurances, much like the president has through his foreign leader calls, where people not only understand it, but are willing to follow through on it. reporter: so it's an ongoing process? mr. spicer: of course it's an ongoing process. i mean, i think we need to follow up to make sure that the commitments that they're making on the phone or in person, in the case of the vice president, are followed up. reporter: the dhs memos today -- obviously these immigration enforcement efforts cost money, hiring more agents. do you envision that the current budget is sufficient, or are you going to need to go to congress for more money? mr. spicer: yeah, i think right now ice and dhs in particular, as well as cbp, are looking at what this is going to cost and how much and putting a request together, and then figuring out how much can be handled through reallocation of resources and how much we can save maybe in
another area, but then also work with congress. reporter: one other subject, different matter. there was an election report out today that the president raised more small campaign donations in 2016 than either hillary clinton and bernie sanders combined. did he have a reaction to that? has he seen that? mr. spicer: i don't know, and i would ask you to probably go through the rnc for that. that's a political matter that we generally don't discuss. reporter: sean, the national center for transgender equality, citing reliable sources, says the trump administration today will rescind obama-era guidance requiring schools to allow transgender kids to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. will the trump administration rescind that guidance? mr. spicer: right now, that's an issue that the department of justice and the department of education are addressing. i would tell you that -- and i think that there will be further guidance coming from doj in particular with respect to not just the executive order, but also the case that's in front of the supreme court. the president has maintained for a long time that this is a states' rights issue and not one for the federal government.
so, while there will be further guidance coming out on this, i think that all you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in. reporter: in the wake of the vice president's trip to europe, there's questions as to the administration's position on the future of the european union with regard to a number of political movements across the continent advocating for the disbandment eventually of the european union. i wanted to see if you could clarity the administration's position on the future of the european union. mr. spicer: i think the vice president had great meetings with several european union leaders, and made it very clear to them that we'll continue to work with them, and reaffirmed our commitment to working with these nations. i mean, there's no update on that. cecilia. reporter: on immigration, on the dhs memo, two parts, if i may. is one of the goals here mass deportation? mr. spicer: no.
what we have to get back to is understanding a couple things. there's a law in place that says if you're in this country illegally, that we have an obligation to make sure that the people who are in our country are here legally. what the order sets out today is ensures that the million-or-so people that have been adjudicated already, that ice prioritizes, creates a system of prioritization, and makes sure that we walk through that system in a way that protects this country. this is consistent with everything the president has talked about, which is prioritizing the people who are here who represent a threat to public safety or have a criminal record. and all this does is lay out the exact procedures to make sure that that subgroup of people who pose a threat to our nation because of a conviction or a violation of public safety or have a criminal record are adjudicated first and foremost. that's it, plain and simple. reporter: a follow-up to that,
is the white house's message to date to undocumented people in this country whose only crime is being in this country illegally, "don't worry, or you're on notice?" mr. spicer: no, the message from this white house and from the dhs is that those people who are in this country and pose a threat to our public safety or have committed a crime will be the first to go, and we will be aggressively making sure that that occurs. that is what the priority is. the president has said multiple times that we've got to look at this issue in a very, very holistic way. and the number-one priority when you look at the scope of how many people are in the country illegally, the number-one priority is making sure that people who pose a threat to this country are immediately dealt with. and this is not a small group of people. we're talking close to a million people who have already been adjudicated and had their status processed through a formal due process system. and so what we need to do now is to make sure that we focus the resources and the efforts on those people going first and foremost.
and the factsheet and the information that we put out lays that out very, very clearly what is being done. but for so long, the people at ice and cbp had their hands cuffed behind them. and when they were going to deal with the mission of their job, the last administration had so many carve-outs for who could be and who couldn't be adjudicated that it made it very difficult for the customs and enforcement people to do their job and enforce the laws of this country. but right now, what we've done is to make sure that they have the ability and the guidance and the resources to do what their mission is. and that's it, plain and simple. and the president is consistent with his priority of making sure that those people who pose a threat to this country are the first ones to go. reporter: on immigration, just to follow up, the president has a carve-out himself for daca. can you expand on what you were saying on thursday about the process that the administration is taking -- mr. spicer: and this is what i
was basically talking to cecilia
about, which is the president has made clear when you have 12, 14 million, 15 million people in the country illegally, that there has to be a system of priority. and right now, ice's priority is going to make sure that we focus first and foremost on that. specifically, in the guidance, it talks about the daca and dapa, unless someone who fits under that program fits into the dapa, unless someone who fits what is being dealt with now. remember, everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time. that is consistent with every country, not just ours. if you're in this country in an illegal manner, that obviously is a provision that could ensure that you be removed. but the priority that the president has laid forward and the priority that ice is putting forward through dhs's guidance is to make sure that the people who have committed a crime or pose a threat to our public
safety are the priority of their efforts, first and foremost. alsoter: the president has had reservations about undocumented people in the united states who are beneficiaries of public assistance or access to benefits, either at the state or the federal level. what is the president going to be doing to either issue guidance or executive action of some sort to indicate that he would like to preclude that from continuing? mr. spicer: i think we have talked in the past about the respect that the president has for taxpayer money with respect to sanctuary cities, and the enforcement measures that he's putting forward on immigration. right now, obviously, the actions today are focused on people who are in this country and what we need to do on our southern border to facilitate the building of the wall that he's talked about. so we're doing this one step at
a time in a very methodical way,
and right now the focus is to make sure that ice and cbp and dhs have the authority and the resources to carry out that first mission. we will have more -- and then continues to see that immigration is one of those issues that he was very, very clear and consistent on in the campaign, and we're going to continue to implement the policies that he talked about to keep the country safe. reporter: john kasich has been a very vocal critic of president trump, even in the campaign, saying his immigration plan was crazy, his statement that the elections were rigged was silly, and he did not endorse him and did not vote for him. what is the president hoping to accomplish with their meeting at the white house on friday? mr. spicer: so, governor kasich has reached out on multiple occasions to meet with the president to follow on, and the president has shown through the transition and since his time in office that he wants to meet with anybody that can help move this country forward and share in his vision. i think that includes people who are with him, who are not with him, who are on the other side of the aisle, who are
independents, union workers, business leaders. now that he is president -- and, frankly, i would again date it back to the transition -- he understands that he's the president for every american. and he's talked consistently about having a united country. and you do that by bringing people together, whether or not they agree with you on every issue, or one or two issues. but if there's common ground that can be found to move the country forward, then great. and i think so many of the president's priority issues are issues that ohio is dealing with and that he wants to make sure that he can continue to work with governor kasich so that every american benefits. april. reporter: did kasich ask for the meeting? mr. spicer: yes. reporter: what did the president gain from his tour today? you talked about where he visited, the exhibits that he visited. did he also visit slavery? and the reason why i'm asking is, is because when he was
candidate trump, he said things like "we made this country," meaning white america, and not necessarily black. mr. spicer: i don't know why you would say that. what do you mean? reporter: no, no, no, he said that. i heard him say that. mr. spicer: one of the first exhibits that he visited was one of the slavery exhibits. and the director walked him through some very amazing stories and statistics about where slavery was prevailing, not just in traditional southern colonies, but throughout the country. so they did have a very robust discussion about slavery early on in the tour. and i think that it was a very eye-opening and powerful tour for him, and, frankly, for every american. and i would encourage any american that can find the time and get in, because it's so popular. but it really is enlightening as far as parts of our history that people may not fully appreciate or know, and the contributions and the sacrifices that so many
americans have made that are a critical piece to our history that sometimes don't get the attention they deserve. so i think the president walked away from there -- and i mentioned in the remarks that he mentioned to lonnie that he wanted to come back, because you can't do it justice. and it's much like the holocaust museum where you go through it once and then you sit there and start thinking of all the things that you saw, and think, you know, i'd like to go back and more fully explore what i saw because it piqued some degree of interest or intellectual curiosity. but he was very taken aback. it's a very, very powerful institution and tour, and it covers a lot of ground. i think he was really proud to share it with dr. carson. him and i mean, when you walk through that museum and you see all of the elements of our history, when you walk up to this one glass exhibit that is dr. carson's scrubs and pictures of him, and to experience that with him and his wife for the
first time, and you realize how amazing that is for any american to be part of a smithsonian, and you're standing with dr. carson and his wife, where he is experiencing it with you for the first time and how powerful that must have been was, i think, a real interesting opportunity for him to sit there, hand to hand, with another american and watch them be part of american history. and you also appreciate some of the real contributions that dr. carson has made to medicine and the depth and breadth of his accomplishments. reporter: and lastly, kind of putting this with the next question, is there any advancement on the cbc meeting with the president? and also, the head of the cbc said he was wondering if the president saw anything from current and past members of the cbc while he was in the museum, to get a little bit of information on them before this meeting happens. mr. spicer: i'll have further
updates on that. i know the president looks forward to that meeting, and i think that we're in the process of trying to begin setting that up. and so i'll have further updates on that once we get closer. i know that we've got some additional work before the month concludes on historically black colleges and universities, and some meetings that we're working on with them. but i want to get them locked in before i go further. reporter: what did he think about the members that he saw in the museum? mr. spicer: well, when you walk through one of them, there's a big jumbotron, and we paused for a while, and john lewis was there giving a very powerful speech. and we just paused and watched that for a little while. so, again, i think that, respectfully, when you walk through a museum like this there's a lot of moments where you're just stopping and taking it in, and there's -- if you haven't been there, you walk up this one ramp and they stop and there's two big screens, and one of them is a video screen, and it's a massive jumbotron.
and we watched the video of john lewis talking there and describing his efforts in championing voting and civil rights. so i know the president paused and watched it and listened to it. and again, i would just go back to how he described his overall -- we didn't dissect the different things, but i watched him, and it was a very powerful experience for him, and i know he looks forward to going back. hallie. reporter: sean, two questions for you. first one on undocumented immigrants. you just made very clear that the president's priority is to deport those who pose a threat to public safety. mr. spicer: correct. reporter: i know you're familiar with the case of arizona. is she a threat to this country? mr. spicer: i'm going to leave that up to ice. we don't get involved from the white house to particular cases. reporter: but is she a threat to public safety, though? mr. spicer: but, hallie, i think the answer is, is that ice determined that she had violated
the law in a way that was in accordance with this. again, we've got to go back to this idea that our job, especially here at the white house, isn't to call balls and strikes and say, well, this person only violated part of the law, or let them go on this. if this was any other subject, if this was tax evasion and we said, well, they only really violated a little bit of -- they only cheated on their taxes a little, you wouldn't be saying hey, should they really be going to be prison or should they be getting a fine? at some point, laws are laws. and if people have a problem with the law, whether it's at the local, state, or federal issue, then we should petition our lawmakers and the executive at that particular branch of government and change it. but our job shouldn't be to figure out, should this individual not have to abide by the law, should this individual get a pass? if we want to change the law, we've got a very amazing process here in this country to both create and change laws. and so i don't want to comment on the specifics of any one case because i think that then puts the white house in a position of deciding who is following the law and who isn't, and who should get a pass.
reporter: but isn't it different from you just said of prioritization of cases? mr. spicer: no, no, there's a difference. when you have 13 or 14 million people, they're in the country -- you know, i think it's one thing to say prioritize people who pose a threat to public safety and go after this individual or that individual, or whatever. there's no question, you have to have priorities in anything. when you are talking about 13 million, 14 million, 15 million people in this country, the president needed to give guidance, especially after what they went through in the last administration where there were so many carve-outs that ice agents and cbp members had to figure out each individual whether or not they fit in a particular category and they could adjudicate that case. the president wanted to take the shackles off individuals in these agencies and say, you have a mission, there are laws that need to be followed, you should do your mission and follow the law. and for specific cases, i would refer you to ice in particular and do that.
reporter: sean, where did you get that 14 million number? mr. spicer: hold on, hallie is on number two. reporter: so the second question is on the anti-semitism comments that you referenced from the podium, the president made very clear. you said, though, that he has taken opportunities in the past. just last week, though, he had the opportunities to deliver a message to the american people about anti-semitism. he made very clear he was not anti-semitic and he was, in fact, insulted by that. but as far as a broader message to the american people, he declined to offer one. is the president comfortable with his obligation as the leader of this country to deliver that kind of broad and forceful message to americans? and if so, why didn't he do it sooner in the case of these attacks? mr. spicer: well, i think the idea, hallie, that -- he has, and i think there's a point at which he talked literally on election night about uniting this country and making sure that all americans -- and every time there's an instance, it's interesting -- i mean, i get a question, "is he going to denounce this one, is he going to denounce this one?"
he has stood very forcefully against -- reporter: i'm asking, is he comfortable with his role as the person who needs to be delivering a broader message to america? mr. spicer: right. and i think that he is very comfortable and understands that as the leader of the free world, the president of this country, the commander-in-chief, that he has an awesome responsibility to make it very clear where we're going as a country and what our values are, and that he has spoken very forcefully that we don't stand for this kind of behavior, and words, and intolerance, that we are a country that should bring people together and that we shouldn't tolerate people who are hating on individuals because of their gender or because of their religion, or the color of their skin, or a variety of other things, but that there's a point at which it's asked and answered. and i think the president has been very clear over and over again, going back through the campaign, the transition and now, that that's the kind of president that he wants to be, that's the kind of country that he wants to lead. trey. reporter: following the dhs
memos this morning, the aclu said the courts won't allow these orders to become a reality. how is the administration preparing for another potential legal battle? and do you have any response to the aclu? mr. spicer: well, i think we have done a phenomenal job of working with the various departments, particularly dhs and doj, state, and through the white house staff, to make sure that we are well within any concerns that the court might have. and as i mentioned, i think it's important to continue to emphasize we feel as though the first one did that as well, and we were vindicated several times in the court. we have an issue with the ninth circuit, and i think we will butcome that on the merits, in the meantime, a dual-track is something that we wanted to pursue to make sure that we do everything we can, as i mentioned before, to keep the country safe. reporter: the australian foreign minister is here today, meeting the vice president.
also, the secretary of state tomorrow. i guess we can assume that the u.s.-australia refugee deal will come up. now, last time we spoke, the president was still considering and reviewing a deal. can you just update us on what the current position is? mr. spicer: we'll have a readout of that. of course, everyone gets two. [laughter] reporter: if you could just update us on the current position on the deal. and also, given that recent exposure on the president's distaste for it, will australia be expected to return the favor? mr. spicer: look, again, i would wait. we'll have a readout after that call as far as what they discussed. but i've got nothing -- i don't want to get ahead of the vice president's meeting with either the secretary of state or the vice president. kristen. reporter: thank you. i have two questions. one, on the immigration refugee executive order that we're expecting in the coming days, so that it withstands legal challenges, can you tell us what the language might look like as it relates to syrian refugees? mr. spicer: i appreciate the effort, but when we have it
ready, we'll get it out. reporter: is this a ban on syrian refugees? mr. spicer: again, i appreciate the second try, but we're not ready to announce it. and part of it is, is that we're making sure that it is completely ready to go. and so when we have that, we will get it out to you. and i would just -- the reason that we haven't announced it is it's not ready to be announced. reporter: i want to try one more on the comments that the president made today about anti-semitism. in terms of the timing, obviously he was asked about it, but they also came after his daughter, ivanka, sent out that tweet. has she counseled him? was she one of the people saying it's important for you to forcefully denounce this? why today? mr. spicer: because the president was visiting the african american museum, he wanted to make it very clear. i think it was very powerful that, while there, and while understanding the struggles of so many -- and we talk about how one of the beauties of history is that we don't repeat itself. and i think that when you're at a museum like that and seeing
the struggles that so many americans faced and overcame, that you want to remind people that there is still issues that our country is grappling with, and that there is no place for that hate and for that language. and i think -- as i mentioned, it was a very powerful opportunity for him to say that and to make clear, again, what his opinions were. reporter: does he regret not doing it last week, sean? mr. spicer: the president was very clear. as i mentioned to hallie, he has discussed this over and over again. i think there's a point to which his position is abundantly clear. his attempts and his desire and his rhetoric to unite the country has been expressed over and over again. sarah. reporter: thanks, sean. "the new york times" is reporting that trump's budget director is preparing a budget that eliminates the export-import bank. but several lawmakers, including senator heitkamp, have come out of private meetings with president trump and said that in those private meetings he expressed support for the export
bank. so which is it? does he support ex-im or does he support eliminating it? mr. spicer: i can confirm that the omb director -- the budget director is working on a budget. beyond that, i'm not going to get ahead of the omb director right now. they are drafting a budget, they are talking to members of congress and other interested parties about funding levels and such, but we're not at a position to go yet. yes. reporter: sean, just wanted to circle on alexis's question. since the dhs guidance did not eliminate daca, does that mean that the program is remaining in place, that it's a settled matter and it's not going away? mr. spicer: no, jordan. what it means is that this particular enforcement is tailored to what i have been referencing over and over again -- that what we're talking about today is the implementation of those two executive orders, one specifically that's tasking the agencies under dhs to address a very specific problem of the
million or so, plus or minus, people that they have identified, that they have then adjudicated with already going through the process to be adjudicated and taken out of the country. reporter: that means a decision on daca could come any day. mr. spicer: exactly. what it means, more than anything, is that this order does not address that and it's very clear in the q&a -- and, again, i would refer you back to dhs's website that has all of that. reporter: two questions please. one, it's been one month on the job for you and for the president, and you are already talk of the town around the globe. my two questions are, one -- mr. spicer: my wife would disagree with you. [laughter] reporter: it looks like, sean, that the president's order is working at least around the globe because more than 60,000 pakistanis have been deported by saudi arabia. but they're saying that they were illegals and also they're a
threat to the country. and also, at the same time, pakistani government is arresting hundreds of terrorists inside the country. any presidential message? mr. spicer: look, i'm not going to -- there's nothing that i have in terms of an update of what's going on in pakistan. i would refer you to the department of state with respect to specific policies. but the broader point that you're making is i think each country needs to look at what they need to do to control the people that are entering their country and keep their people safe. when you look at our laws in particular, and compare them to so many other countries around the globe, we actually tend to probably fall in the lower end of how tough our immigration policies are vis-a-vis someone else. reporter: sean, my second question. as far as illegal immigrants are concerned in the u.s., millions of illegal immigrants that were waiting for the last eight or ten years that they might see a
light in the dark tunnel, and now they're hoping that president trump will have a light for them. so what is the president's message for them who are in this country for five, 10, 15, or 20 years but they don't have any criminal records? mr. spicer: well, look, the president has said before he's got a big heart. and i think that as we continue to develop policy on immigration, it's going to be, as we've talked about in the past, prioritize what we go after first, second, third. the president has made very clear he understands the plight of some of those individuals. he's got a big heart. he understands the impact it has on many families, many communities. but we will continue to develop policies that will address that. and again, today's focus is specifically on those two executive orders, and i'm going to limit it to that. c-span as watching president donald trump delivers his first presidential address